Inter head coach Antonio Conte believes Italian football's "hate" culture has worsened since he returned to Serie A.

Cagliari fans subjected Inter striker Romelu Lukaku to monkey chants before he took a penalty when the sides met in Serie A on September 2.

On Monday Italian television station TopCalcio24 dropped pundit Luciano Passirani and apologised after he made a racist comment about Lukaku.

Conte resumed his management career in his homeland when he joined Inter in May following two seasons in the Premier League with Chelsea.

The 50-year-old was speaking at a news conference on Friday ahead of their San Siro clash with city rivals AC Milan, which has been called the 'Derby Against Racism'.

"I came back after three years and found everything worse," Conte said.

"A lot of hatred, resentment. It is only to insult and foment hatred. This is very bad. This exists in Italy and is getting worse and worse.

"I had the luck to have an experience in England, where they throw them [supporters] in jail and throw away the keys, they don't come to the stadium anymore.

"We need to improve. That's why in England you see families at the stadium. I repeat: we have to improve everyone.”

Conte also took a swipe at the media and claimed they perpetuate the problem to a large degree by stoking up rivalries.

He continued: "I found an Italy worsened to the nth degree and we are all guilty. Including you [the media] who are sitting there. We are not exempt.

"It is easy to make articles after something has happened and to put yourself on the side of reason. 

"They are articles that foster lack of respect. We will all have to do an examination of conscience. I repeat: I had been absent for three years, I found something multiplied many times. 

"I think it is anti-educational towards the generations that are coming because they are born in front of the keyboard reading hate and violence.

"The solution would be to send positive messages. Do not stir up violence and accentuate the rivalry.

"I think that communication has a very important role in this because the reader can read hatred or positive things and can continue on a certain wave."

AC Milan are set to launch an anti-racism task force to tackle discrimination in Italian football.

Milan's initiative had been several months in planning but, following several high-profile incidents in Italian football, they accelerated matters to launch at the Derby della Madonnina against bitter rivals Inter on Saturday.

The contest has been rebranded the "Derby Against Racism", as the Rossoneri aim to "demonstrate solidarity with some of the most high-profile targets of the negative behaviour".

The decision to bring the announcement forward comes in the wake of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku suffering alleged racist abuse during matches in September.

An Italian football pundit was also suspended from television show TopCalcio24 for using a racist remark when praising the performances of Lukaku.

Announcing the campaign, Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said: "Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviour.

"AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue, promoting basic human values that are relevant to us all. Football provides a powerful example of the strength of unity and teamwork.

"Diversity, inclusion and tolerance enhance the strength of the team, the club and of society as a whole. We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.

"This first significant step aims to visibly demonstrate that we will be proactive in our efforts to tackle racism in football. These values transcend football rivalries and we are delighted to have the support of Inter for this initiative."

Inter Miami have found their star signing, set to land Manchester City playmaker David Silva.

The MLS side, set to start playing next year, have been linked with numerous big names, with Barcelona star Lionel Messi among them.

But they appear to have found the man to lead them into their debut campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DAVID SILVA SET TO JOIN MLS SIDE INTER MIAMI

David Silva is likely to join Inter Miami at the end of the 2019-20 season, according to the Independent.

The 33-year-old has previously said this campaign would be his last with Manchester City, the club he arrived at in 2010.

David Beckham is a co-owner of Inter Miami and it seems they are set to land the star they have been chasing.

ROUND-UP

- Unsurprisingly, Erling Haaland's Champions League exploits have led to interest from a couple of Europe's biggest clubs. The RB Salzburg forward, 19, scored a hat-trick against Genk on Tuesday. Barcelona have watched Haaland previously, according to Mundo Deportivo, while The Sun reports Manchester United have also joined the race for the Norway international.

- Barcelona may be busy in January, but only with departures. Marca reports the LaLiga giants are not planning to make any signings despite continued interest in Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, but are considering selling first-team players Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti and Arturo Vidal.

- Mason Greenwood is set to re-sign with Manchester United. The Sun reports the forward, who scored his first senior goal for the club in the Europa League on Thursday, will sign a new contract before his 18th birthday on October 1, taking his wages from £800 to £25,000 per week.

- Antoine Griezmann made the move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona in the close season and the forward received quite the bonus. The France international landed a €14million commission to sign for Barcelona, according to El Mundo.

- Like Haaland, another RB Salzburg player is being chased by a Premier League club. Arsenal have made a fresh approach for playmaker Dominik Szoboszlai, according to The Sun, having also chased the 18-year-old Hungarian during the close season.

- There appears to be some tension at Inter. Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic exchanged words in the dressing room and had to be separated by team-mates after a 1-1 Champions League draw at home to Slavia Prague on Tuesday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Cagliari will not be punished for racist abuse aimed at Inter striker Romelu Lukaku, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed.

Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants as he prepared to take a penalty in the Serie A meeting between the sides earlier this month.

Cagliari subsequently vowed to ban the supporters responsible but rejected "silly stereotypes" about the behaviour of their fans, while Lukaku called on football authorities and players to "unify" in the fight against racism.

The FIGC said it would investigate the incident but on Tuesday its Giudice Sportivo panel ruled Cagliari would not be punished over the abuse aimed at the Belgium international.

"The head of the public order stated that police of Cagliari had spotted that in the phases preceding the penalty kick, and only on that occasion, from the sector "Curva Nord", usually occupied by the home supporters, there were chants, shouts and arguments against the athlete Lukaku, who was preparing for the penalty," said a statement. 

But it was concluded the club would not be punished due to the "size" of the chanting and the perception that there was too much shouting and whistling to identify its "discriminatory" nature.

Cagliari, however, were fined €5,000 after fans launched plastic bottles on to the pitch against Inter.

The abuse aimed at Lukaku is the fourth high-profile occasion Cagliari have been involved in such incidents in just over two years.

In May 2017, Pescara's Sulley Muntari was booked for complaining to the referee about racism and was later given a one-match ban for walking off the pitch, while Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi claimed in January 2018 he was abused.

Last season Matuidi's then club-mate Moise Kean was targeted with the Sardinia club escaping punishment as Serie A felt the chants "had an objectively limited relevance to race".

Meanwhile, Italian sports pundit Luciano Passirani, who was suspended by television channel TopCalcio24 after saying the only way to stop Lukaku was to give him "10 bananas", has denied being racist.

He told Corriere dello Sport: "I have been in the world of football for 40 years and have never received a suspension for behaviour in any of the roles I have held, but I accept the decision made against me.

"I would not like to pass for a racist. My partner who has lived with me for 17 years is black, I have two black grand-daughters. I am not a racist and I believe I am an educated person in every respect.

"In my career I met so many black players and I never had any problems."

Antonio Conte is committed to building a "special" Inter side but has called for patience from fans and media alike ahead of the Nerazzurri's Champions League meeting with Slavia Prague.

Inter have won all three of their opening Serie A fixtures under Conte and sit top of the table.

Head coach Conte, though, has insisted patience will be required throughout the campaign, conceding the Champions League will make it more difficult for him to pin down Inter's new style of play.

"It will be hard to play on more than one front. The more time you have the easier it is for the coach and also for the players to recover," Conte told a news conference.

"The Champions League is a great source of motivation, we all want to do well and go far for the fans too, but it is not easy for me in my goal of creating a side with an identity.

"There is real desire to create something special, we are laying solid foundations for something important.

"It is vital we keep our feet on the ground, but the enthusiasm must come from the results, from our hard work and our aims, so time and patience is needed.

"I played in three Champions League finals and coached Juventus in the Champions League too, my record there was good.

"At Chelsea too, I coached in the Champions League, this is my fourth season as a coach in the Champions League, but it takes time to win it, you need experience, you need to create a side with an identity.

"In the past I have coached sides still being built. It has not been easy for me."

The arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have boosted Inter's attack, while Conte's side have scored seven and conceded just once in their three league matches so far.

Lukaku has scored twice so far, though had to be taken off with an injury midway through the second half against Udinese on Saturday.

"Lukaku will train today," Conte said when asked if the forward was fit.

"He had a back injury against Udinese but we will see and evaluate his fitness."

An Italian sports programme has suspended pundit Luciano Passirani after he made a racist remark on air about Inter striker Romelu Lukaku.

Passirani made the comment on TopCalcio24 on Sunday while praising Lukaku's performances for Inter this season after the Nerazzurri earned a third win from as many Serie A games by beating Udinese 1-0.

A clip was subsequently shared on social media and Passirani has now been banned from appearing on the show.

"Mr Passirani is 80 years old and to compliment Lukaku he used a metaphor that turned out to be racist," programme director Fabio Ravezzani, who also confirmed Passirani had apologised, stated.

"I think it was a terrible lack of momentary lucidity. I cannot tolerate any kind of errors, even if momentary."

Lukaku made the switch to Inter from Manchester United in the August and has scored twice in three Serie A outings thus far.

Lukaku was the target of abuse in Inter's win over Cagliari last month.

Monkey chants could be heard as the Belgium striker converted a penalty in the 2-1 win, with Lukaku posting on Instagram afterwards: "Football is a game to be enjoyed and we shouldn't accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame.

"Ladies and gentlemen it's 2019 – instead of going forwards we're going backwards."

Antonio Conte has called on Inter to be more clinical after they only managed a 1-0 victory over 10-man Udinese on Saturday.

Inter moved to the top of Serie A, two points clear of Juventus, as their third win in as many matches was secured by Stefano Sensi's first-half header.

Sensi's goal followed Rodrigo De Paul being shown a red card, after referee Maurizio Mariani reviewed footage of him striking Antonio Candreva on the head away from the ball.

Romelu Lukaku failed to have a single shot at goal, while Alexis Sanchez was brought on for his debut with just 10 minutes remaining as the Nerazzurri scraped through.

"I congratulated the lads because it was a very difficult match against a strong team and these three points are important. We deserved them but must also recognise Udinese did well to stay in the game until the end," Conte told DAZN.

"We should've been more clinical and finished it off earlier, but instead we were always just hanging on.

"We know we have to fight. I read too much rubbish in the papers. We must go our own way without thinking about anything or anyone else. The truth is nothing is easy and we will never take anything for granted.

"I had warned the players that Udinese would take a very defensive approach and we had to be careful on counter-attacks. We've got to start moves from the back and we achieved that against a team that will cause problems for many opponents this season.

"We've got a long road ahead of us, we have a lot of work to do and won't get caught up in the euphoria, we are laying the groundwork. We want to be a tough team."

Stefano Sensi's goal was the difference as Inter retained their 100 per cent record in Serie A by comfortably beating 10-man Udinese 1-0 on Alexis Sanchez's debut at San Siro.

A nine-minute spell before half-time proved decisive as Rodrigo de Paul was shown a red card for striking Antonio Candreva on the head following the intervention of VAR and Sensi nodded Inter ahead.

Romelu Lukaku endured a disappointing outing and made way for Lautaro Martinez in the 65th minute, before Sanchez replaced Matteo Politano to make his first appearance for the Nerazzurri against one of the forward's former clubs.

While Inter were unable add to their tally, they had already done enough to pick up a third straight win under Antonio Conte and move two points clear of Juventus at the top of the table.

Politano went close to putting Inter ahead in the fourth minute when his low drive from 25 yards struck the outside of the post.

Sensi saw a fine volley from the edge of the box pushed aside by Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, before Walace was kept out by Samir Handanovic at the other end.

Udinese were reduced to 10 men after 35 minutes when De Paul was shown a red card after referee Maurizio Mariani reviewed footage of his retaliation to Candreva appearing to touch his face.

Inter took advantage a minute before half-time, Sensi getting across Rodrigo Becao and heading a fine delivery from Diego Godin – making his first start since joining from Atletico Madrid – in off the underside of the crossbar.

Kevin Lasagna overpowered Godin but was thwarted by Handanovic, before Musso denied Politano and Roberto Gagliardini – a half-time replacement for Nicolo Barella – before the hour mark.

After Musso kept out a Sensi free-kick, an awkward fall for Politano paved the way for Sanchez to enter the fray to a great ovation with 10 minutes remaining.

Sanchez went close to marking his debut with a goal when Candreva's square pass fell to him in the six-yard box, but a scrambling Musso kept him at bay and Inter coasted to the final whistle.
 

What does it mean? Advantage Inter

With Juventus held to a 0-0 draw at Fiorentina earlier on Saturday, Inter opened up a gap over the reigning champions at the top of the table.

There is still a long way to go, but they are the only team to possess a 100 per cent record after playing three matches, though Torino could join them by beating Lecce on Monday.

Sensational Sensi

Lukaku and Sanchez were the headline arrivals at San Siro this season but Sensi continued to show he is a valuable addition. The midfielder, on loan from Sassuolo, provided great support to the strikers and took his goal brilliantly.

Lukaku off the boil

After scoring in each of his first two matches and finding the net for Belgium during the international break, Lukaku failed to get into the action in Milan. He had no shots, created no chances and had a passing accuracy of 61.1 per cent in a disappointing outing.

What's next?

Inter will be in Champions League action at home to Slavia Prague on Tuesday, while Udinese are not in action until the visit of Brescia next Saturday.

Players subjected to racist abuse are powerless and football must do more to protect them, according to former England striker Emile Heskey.

The start of the 2019-20 season has been marred by incidents involving black players, with Romelu Lukaku targeted during a Serie A game and Tammy Abraham, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford all subjected to abuse on social media after missing penalties.

Lukaku called on football authorities and players to "unify" in the fight against racism after monkey chants could be heard during Inter's win away at Cagliari prior to the international break.

Heskey, who played for Premier League clubs including Leicester City and Liverpool, suggested it will be tough to stop people abusing players online - and insisted points deductions are not the solution.

"They're all conducting themselves well [racially abused players]. But there is nothing they can do," Heskey told Omnisport. 

"They're calling for people to help, as in authorities, to do something to stop it.

"Because it's not fair, it's not right. You've got lads who are having their family members in the stadium, and they're being abused. It's not right.

"For what? For what reason? Because you're black or because you're different to someone else?

"No. So there's something that's got to happen but we haven't really sussed out what we need to do.

"They would have to implement a lot of things. You have to know who actually owns this account or that account, so you'd need I.D.

"Honestly, I'm not too sure where they're going to go with it but they need to do something because it's just too easy to go and attack someone now. You can't start deducting points."

Antonio Conte has pledged Inter will help Alexis Sanchez recapture his best form.

Sanchez has joined the Nerazzurri on loan after losing his way at Manchester United, where he scored three goals in 32 Premier League appearances.

The Chile forward, described by former United boss Jose Mourinho as a "sad man" this week, is in line to make his Inter debut in Saturday's Serie A game at home to Udinese with Conte expectant over the 30-year-old.

"Sanchez is a strong player, he has shown in the past the quality that he possesses," Conte told reporters.

"We need to help him recapture the form that he lost at Manchester United. He has to adapt to our game and that is what he is doing."

Sanchez will at least have a familiar face at Inter in the form of another ex-United player, striker Romelu Lukaku.

"He has entered the world of Inter with great humility and has shown a real willingness," Conte said of Belgium international Lukaku. "The rest of the group understood that immediately and have welcomed him in the best possible way.

"He has great qualities as a human and is a true team player. His fitness has improved. We hope he scores as many goals as possible for the team – he has always scored goals."

Inter have two wins from two since Conte arrived at San Siro, but the former Chelsea, Juventus and Italy coach is judging progress by other metrics.

"An important foundation is being built irrespective of results," Conte added. "Enthusiasm shouldn't depend on the results we achieve but the way we obtain them. It should depend on what the team manage to transmit to the fans.

"With today's Inter, you can see that there's a team and club with clear ideas. We're trying to work to find a clearly defined tactical identity on a daily basis: when those who have played less up to this point come into the team, they’ll know exactly what they have to do.

"We are the team that have undergone the most change. It is inevitable that there will be a period of adjustment, but we want to turn the question marks around us into exclamation marks."

Jose Mourinho claims Alexis Sanchez flopped at Manchester United because he was a "sad man", but has backed the Chilean to reignite his love for football at Inter.

Sanchez joined the Italian club on an initial season-long loan deal two weeks ago after struggling for form and fitness during his 18 months at Old Trafford.

Much was expected of the Chile international following his switch from Arsenal in January 2018, but he managed just three goals in 32 Premier League appearances.

Mourinho was in charge of United at the time of Sanchez's arrival and is willing to accept some of the blame for the ex-Barcelona forward's lack of impact.

"I felt him [to be] not a happy man," Mourinho told The Telegraph. "I think in every job you have when you are not happy it is not so easy to perform at every level. 

"Maybe I am wrong - maybe it was me who was not capable to get into him and to get the best out of him.

"As a manager sometimes you have the capacity to get the best out of the players and other times you are not successful in that approach. 

"But the reality is that I always felt [of Sanchez], 'a sad man'. So probably in Italy he will recover this. I hope he can. I always wish well to every player."

Inter also took Romelu Lukaku from United on a permanent basis during the transfer window and Mourinho has no doubt the Belgian will continue to score regularly in Italy.

"[He has scored] for West Bromwich Albion, for Everton, for United," Mourinho said. 

"In terms of Lukaku the move looks more like player ambition, player desire to change, than [the notion] he didn't deliver anything for the club."

Mourinho has been out of work since being sacked by United last December and is desperate to find the right job, believing he has always picked difficult projects.

"For sure my next job will be a difficult one because I am very bad at choosing projects," he said. "I am either bad at choosing projects or the bad projects choose me. But it is always the same. 

"When I go to Real Madrid, it is because Madrid are in trouble. When I go to United it is because United are in trouble. When I go to Chelsea the first time it is because they haven't won the league in 50 years. 

"When I go the second time it is because their top team disappeared and they want to be champions with a new team. When I go to Inter it is because they haven't won the Champions League for 50 years.

"I have never had one of these clubs where it is, 'Come on, the team is here ready'. But that is the nature of things. When the teams change coaches in the middle of the season it is for a reason. It is because of bad results."

Inter forward Alexis Sanchez said there is no one like Romelu Lukaku in the world as he hailed the Serie A club's most expensive player.

Lukaku joined Inter in a club-record deal after leaving Premier League giants Manchester United last month.

The 26-year-old has already scored two goals in two games for Antonio Conte's Inter, who are looking to dethrone Italian champions Juventus this term.

Sanchez followed Lukaku to Inter from United on loan and the Chilean heaped praise on his star team-mate.

"You won't find anyone else like him, anywhere in the world," Sanchez told ESPN.

"Lukaku and I trained very well. But we needed to play more in games to get to our best.

"It wasn't the right time for us to be at Manchester. Too many changes. When you change that much, it's tough.

"Lukaku and I trained very well. I can feel the will here to achieve. This is why I'm here.

"That's why Romelu is here. Will it work? We will have a lot more to say about that at the end of the season."

Lukaku scored 42 goals for United across all competitions following his move to Old Trafford from Everton in 2017.

Sanchez swapped Arsenal for United in a high-profile transfer in January last year, however, form and injuries limited the 30-year-old to just five goals.

Inter host Udinese on Saturday, with Sanchez looking to make his debut for the Nerazzurri.

Romelu Lukaku says he was "scapegoated" during his time at Manchester United.

The Belgium striker left Old Trafford to join Inter ahead of the 2019-20 Serie A season and has scored two goals in two games under Antonio Conte, who previously tried to sign him for both Juventus and Chelsea.

And the 26-year-old feels he was mistreated after falling out of favour last term under United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"Scapegoated," Lukaku told ESPN. "Meaning 'You. Are. The. Reason.'"

Lukaku was criticised for a perceived weight problem, with former United captain Gary Neville describing the issue as "unforgivable" for a professional footballer.

"Normally I have a fine digestive system," Lukaku explained.

"I digest everything very quickly. That's how it had been my entire life. But what the nutritionist said to me was it had stopped working.

"I'm good now. My body is in the zone."

Lukaku feels the time was right to leave United and revealed he has settled in quickly at Inter.

"This could be the team I need," he said. "There's the love I have for this area. The love that I have for Inter.

"And it was the perfect moment for me to leave England. I didn't want to be there anymore."

Belgium and Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is just focused on playing well after it was put to him that he is the most in-form player in the world.

De Bruyne produced another scintillating display with three assists and a goal as Belgium eased past Scotland 4-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday.

The playmaker has also managed one goal and five assists for two-time reigning Premier League champions City this term.

"Fortunately I don't have to judge that," De Bruyne said when asked if there is anyone playing better than him at the moment.

"I just have to play well. I'm just content. I'm feeling good. 

"I have already played many matches and am starting to come into my rhythm. That is important, because there are still many games to play."

De Bruyne added: "When your career is over, you can see what you have done afterwards. But right now I just want to win competitions. The faster we do that, the better. That can also be very important for the rest of the season."

Romelu Lukaku benefited from one of De Bruyne's assists as he opened the scoring against Scotland in Glasgow.

Lukaku broke the deadlock in the ninth minute before Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld and De Bruyne preserved Belgium's 100 per cent record in Group I.

Inter striker Lukaku – Belgium's all-time leading scorer – moved within one of his 50th international goal.

"I'll get to that 50th goal," said Lukaku. "I have to say that I was more busy with the 30th, when I was able to break the record. 

"I don't dream about the 50. I really don't. I'm relaxed. I am a killer on the field, but not next to it. I was happy with that goal. It was a long time ago that we had scored another goal on the counter. If we can play like this, we are deadly. The best counter-attacking team in the world. 

"I am happy that I could give an assist to De Bruyne. He finished it nicely. The finish was more beautiful than the pass itself."

Scotland's bid for automatic qualification to Euro 2020 is all but over after they were outclassed by a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Belgium, who ran out 4-0 victors at Hampden Park.

The Manchester City midfielder made goals for Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld in the first half before claiming a deserved one of his own late on as the Group I leaders ran riot against Steve Clarke's team.

Scotland are at least guaranteed a place in the play-offs in March after winning their Nations League group, but there is much work for new boss Clarke to do before then.

Belgium, meanwhile, lived up to their status as the number-one side in the FIFA rankings as they maintained their 100 per cent record in the group.

Clarke made four changes to the team beaten by Russia on Friday and his side began purposefully only to find themselves behind within nine minutes following a devastating demonstration of counter-attacking at its best from the visitors.

Dries Mertens set De Bruyne away down the left channel and he drove towards goal before picking out the onrushing Lukaku at the far post and, with time and space to compose himself, the Inter Milan forward made no mistake.

The outstanding De Bruyne once again was the provider in the 24th minute, bending in a superb cross which Vermaelen flicked home.

It was next the turn of another Belgium defender, Alderweireld, to make it three eight minutes later when he took advantage of slack marking to head De Bruyne's cross in off the underside of the crossbar, capping a disastrous first half for the home side.

It was still Roberto Martinez's team who looked the more likely to add to their advantage, with De Bruyne and Alderweireld spurning chances before the former got the goal his efforts deserved, curling in with eight minutes left after being found by Lukaku.

What does it mean? Belgium virtually assured of top-two finish

A comfortable victory at Hampden Park left Belgium with six wins from six and on course for a top-two finish.

Scotland, above only San Marino in the six-team group, know they at least have the cushion of the play-offs.

De Bruyne back to his best 

His performances so far this season for Manchester City have already suggested De Bruyne is returning to the peak of his powers and there was yet further evidence here in what was a world-class display from the Belgium international, who provided three assists in the first half alone before scoring a deserved goal. 

Lacklustre defending a real concern for Clarke

Losing to the world's number-one ranked team is no disgrace, but what will have infuriated Clarke is the ease with which his Scotland side gave goals away. They lacked defensive discipline, failing to track runners and allowing their opponents too much space from set-pieces.

What's next?

Scotland travel to Russia next month and a second-half caution for a challenge on Mertens means Scott McTominay will be suspended for that game. Belgium host Group I's bottom side San Marino.

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